(Not Quite) January Sewing: Long Sleeved T-Shirt

I’m late (mostly due to the fact that my sewing machine died at the end of January), but I finally finished my January project for MAGAM. I made a scoop neck T-shirt using Kwik Sew 3766 and a cotton rayon jersey blend fabric from Girl Charlee. This fabric is pretty drapey and clings like nobody’s business, which is not my favorite. But given that this is my first adult garment besides pajama pants, I’m pretty pleased with the way this project turned out.

KS3766 via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

I used the size L for the chest, blending to the XL for the rest of the shirt. I also added a bit more width to the hip, and then did a 3” FBA following this excellent tutorial from VickikateMakes. I’m pretty happy with the way the shirt fits around the bust, but next time around, I’ll eliminate some of the additional width from the hip and the waist.

KS3766 Back via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

My biggest struggle and my biggest triumph with this shirt was the neckline. I practiced (and failed) several times attaching a neckband in a way that would lay flat. It got to the point where I was so frustrated that I had to set the whole project aside for a couple of days before I could try again. Ultimately, I realized that I was being too aggressive. I was so worried the band wouldn’t lay flat that I was stretching it so much that it was basically gathering the fabric. Once I realized my major malfunction, life got a little bit better and I was able to sew a reasonably flat neckband. (It’s still a smidge too loose, but good enough for this first shirt.) I made the neckband for this shirt a bit narrower than the pattern piece. The pattern advises you to stitch the ends of the band together and then stretch it evenly around neckband, but I decided to just attach it flat (as shown here in this tutorial), which worked out a lot better than my first miserable stretching attempts.

KS3766 Neckline via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

So I know that I’m on my way to getting a basic T-shirt pattern that fits me well and I know now to use knits that have a bit more body. But I have to confess: this sewing business is hard. And by that, I don’t mean that sewing in and of itself is hard, but rather that going through the growing pains of being new to sewing feels a little rough at the moment. The downside of coming to sewing as a long-time knitter is that I find it really frustrating that the things that I sew don’t turn out as well as the things I knit. And the discerning eye I’ve developed as a knitter that allows to me to recognize and fix issues with my knitting makes it really easy for me to pick out imperfections with my sewing and harder to appreciate where I’ve grown in the process. Like every learning process, I’m finding that sewing has its peaks and its valleys, and feel like I’m in a bit of a valley. I suppose the only way out is to keep sewing. 🙂

And with that in mind, on to my February project!

January Sewing Plans: Kwik Sew 3766

Like I  said in an earlier post, I’m trying to develop my sewing skills this year by making a garment every month. For my January project, I plan on making a basic long-sleeved T-shirt using Kwik Sew 3766 and a green polka dot cotton blend jersey fabric I bought from Girl Charlee. (It doesn’t look like this fabric is available anymore.)

January Sewing Plans
I know it sounds boring and about as simple as you can get, but this will be the first piece of clothing I’ve made for myself that aren’t pajama pants. I’ve made one previous attempt at sewing a top and it was a spectacular failure. Given my history, my primary goal for this project is to simply make a garment that I don’t feel totally ashamed to wear in public. There are a few things I’m trying to do to try to stack the sewing deck in my favor:

1.) I picked this pattern because it’s very basic and because it has great reviews on Pattern Review. I’ve already read through the instructions and they are very, very accessible. My one previous failed garment attempt was for a woven tank that seemed simple but required complicated fitting adjustments to get it to fit me. Based on my measurements, this pattern doesn’t seem like it will require any adjustments I can’t handle.

Black Pin Dot Olive Jersey Blend

2.) I’m making a knit top because it will be more forgiving in terms of fit. I know some people are reluctant to sew with knits, especially as beginners, but I have a bit of practice working with knits. I already have a walking foot for my machine and the pattern has very specific instructions for working with knits that will definitely come in handy.

The toddler-sized shirt I made using this tutorial.

3.) I made a simple T-shirt for my nephew a few months ago. While I’m sure this project will be a bit more challenging than making a toddler shirt (if for no other reason than my standards are a bit higher than a 2-year-old’s), knowing that I’ve successfully attached a neck band and sewn in sleeves makes me less nervous going into this project.

4.) I bought extra fabric. I’m not so naïve as to believe that failure is not a real possibility with this project. In a perfect world, I’ll wind up with a handful of new shirts. In a more realistic world, I’ve made sure I’ve got enough fabric to afford myself a second (and third) try.

Red and Gray Jersey Blends

I’m hoping that with some care and practice, this first project of the year will be the first of many me-made knit tops. I wear knit tops almost every day, but have trouble finding knit tops that are classroom appropriate, that fit well, and that won’t fall apart in the first wash cycle. I’ve found a number of knit top patterns that I like, and I’m hoping to work my way up to the more challenging patterns as I sew my way through this challenge.

The long weekend should give me a chance to make some headway on this project. Wish me luck!